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Peeping Tom: Peeping Tom ****½

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rossiter Drake*

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PEEPING TOM: Peeping Tom
(Courtesy of SFStation.com)

Mike Patton has long been rock’s foremost musical chameleon, whether he’s producing frenetic thrash metal with the likes of Fantômas and Mr. Bungle or freestyling over crisp X-Ecutioners beats as General Patton. Perhaps best known to the Top Forty crowd for his tour of duty as the lead singer of Faith No More, Patton’s catalogue is a wildly eclectic and oftentimes confounding mix, bursting with manic energy and even a hint of lunacy. Now comes Peeping Tom, a surprisingly accessible effort featuring Patton’s colorful collaborations with guests including Norah Jones, Massive Attack and Dan the Automator.

As always, it’s musical potluck: “Getaway,” with Kool Keith, is dark, brooding hip-hop, while “Your Neighborhood Spaceman” finds Patton teaming up with Jel and Odd Nosdam to create exquisite electronic pop that recalls the work of digital masterminds like Air and Gorillaz. Granted, Patton’s brand of pop isn’t likely to land on FM dials anytime soon – his riveting vocal freak-outs and boldly experimental song structures wouldn’t much impress the Simon Cowells of the world. But Peeping Tom serves notice that Patton’s pop sensibilities remain intact – and gleefully warped – almost two decades after the breakthrough success of 1989’s “Epic.” For proof, look no further than “We’re Not Alone,” a bona-fide rock anthem driven by the blissful union of bludgeoning guitar riffs and Patton’s piercing howl. It’s a powerful throwback to Faith No More’s heyday, but they’re long gone. Luckily, Mike Patton isn’t.

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